Gelato

If you still think a 99 with a flake on top is the pinnacle of ice cream enjoyment, it’s time to discover the wave of new varieties and vendors of ice cream that have taken the world by storm. From Indian kulfi to Mexican paletas, the sweet treat is experiencing a real renaissance – perhaps it’s no surprise it was named as one of the key food trends for 2019 by the Waitrose food report.

Thanks to their vintage appeal and ability to give customers an (oh-so Instagrammable) experience, ice cream parlours are booming even in a time when the high street is suffering. Here’s our rundown of some of the most exciting new types of ice cream from around the world – and where you can get your hands on them. 

Thailand

1. Rolled Ice Cream

First up, a trend that comes straight from the street vendors of Thailand. It looks like tightly rolled wafers, but is actually made entirely of ice cream. How is it made? The mix is poured onto a cold pan, allowed a few seconds to set, before being shaved into those cute curls that are taking social media by storm.

They’re often served in a cup, alongside other delicious delights like fruit, cookies cereal or sweets. Flavours on offer range from spiced mango to caramel apple. Rolled ice cream is becoming more and more popular around the world, but we reckon it tastes the best on the hot streets of Bangkok, or the beaches of Phuket.  

India

2. Kulfi

At first glance, Indian kulfi may look similar to the ice cream we know and love, but look closer: it’s actually far silkier and creamier. This traditional Indian dessert is made from caramelised milk, giving it a rich, nutty flavour, and was created as a way to cool down in the fierce Indian sun. It’s typically sold by street vendors, and served on a stick, much like candyfloss.

Expect natural flavours and embrace savoury flavours plus a kick of the unusual: pistachio, saffron, mango, rose and cardamom. It’s a delicate and fragrant pudding that’s ideal after a spice-heavy main. 

Japan

3. Mochi Ice Cream

You may have heard of mochi before – small Japanese cakes made out of gelatinous rice in rainbow colours – but what about mochi ice cream? Instead of being filled with azuki beans, these tasty treats contain a ball of smooth, creamy ice cream. They’re easily polished off in a bite or two, meaning just one is never enough.

Mochi ice cream was created by Frances Hashimoto and her husband in the 1980s and was introduced to their bakery ten years later, where it continues to sell out. Broaden your horizons with unusual flavour combinations – we're talking red bean, green matcha and plum wine, as well as classics like vanilla and chocolate.  

Taiwan

4. Snow Ice

Not to be confused with the slushy-style shave ice that’s popular in Hawaii and the USA, snow ice originates from Taiwan. It’s called ‘xue Hua bing’, which translates literally to ‘snow flower’. It’s made by flavouring ice before shaping them into large blocks. As it spins, thin ribbons are shaved off, creating the snow ice.

This dessert gets its sweetness and creaminess from added condensed milk and toppings of your choice: in Taiwan, you’ll often find it served with nostalgic favourites like gummy bears, or fruit and luxurious chocolate sauce. The perfect thing for cooling down during humid summers in Taipei. 

Mexico

5. Paletas

Heading over to Mexico now, where you’ll find paletas, an icy snack whose popularity is spreading rapidly through the USA and Canada. Their closest relative is probably the popsicle, but paletas are made using fresh ingredients instead, like banana and mango, which gives them a sweetness that’s all natural.

Paleterias – parlours dedicated to the paletas – are common in all sizes of Mexican cities, as are street stalls. They're widely believed to have first gained traction in the 1940s when they were pioneered by a family-run business called La Michoacana. Look out for the distinctive chongos zamoranos flavour – a classic Mexican dessert, whose main ingredient is curdled milk! 

If that hasn’t got you craving ice cream, we’re not sure what will. Join us on a tasting mission on one of our Arabian Gulf & IndiaAsia or Mexico cruises.